This last couple of months have been full of changes and at the same time a bit static. One good and constant thing is that I can continue my work on the illustrations for the Flora of Madagascar. Last week I dared to travel and went to Geneva. It had been a while since I was able to visit the Geneva Botanical Gardens. I really needed to go and consult the herbarium specimens to continue my illustrations. It was an intense week but I am happy with the work done and also the work to come. I sketched and measured a lot and I took even more pictures to be able to draw at home for a couple of months. As we know, traveling is not the best idea right now. I think it will be my last trip for a while.
Here is a bit of my process with a couple of pictures (from left to right):
the herbarium specimen
the measured drawing
the transfer to a transparent paper so that I can more easily transfer it later
thick paper where I draw more details first with a light pencil and then with ink
After that, I scan the illustration and probably will clean it up a bit on the computer. On this one I need to correct a mistake that I did with a leaf. After that I will do a composition with the other illustrations for the species, like details of the flowers and leaves. You can click on the images to see them a bit bigger.
This a new species of Capurodendron of Madagascar that is being described by the botanists at the Conservatoire et Jardin Botaniques de Genève and will be published soon in a paper with other new species. Later it will be included in the volume of Sapotaceae of the Flora of Madagascar by the same authors.
I love to do botanical illustrations, specially the ones that I do for work. But I also like to do little doodles and less serious drawings 🙂 At the beginning of the year I had planned to find an art class so I can learn and experiment with new things but the quarantine changed my plans.
Last week I decided to try some online classes and it is fun. I had to do a self-portrait. I do not draw people very often, it is difficult. But this kind of self portrait was not about drawing exactly your face but more drawing an idea of yourself. It was nice because I had to find details but keep it quite simple at the same time. Something else new is that most of it was digital. I began with pencil sketches but then the final image is made in the computer. I cheated a bit because I scanned an ink drawing and then rearranged it and coloured it in the computer. I have a drawing tablet but I still prefer to draw on paper, and I think that it helps to keep my style. Maybe some other time I will experiment more in the computer.
Anyway, here is the final result. My friends will recognize me with my favorite striped t-shirt and my long braid, and off course I could not let my cats out and some mini plants for the print of my trousers.
With the Pandemic of the Covid-19, in the last couple of weeks a lot of people have started working from home or, as they say in french, they do “le télé-travail”. Now it is obligatory to stay at home in many countries. A lot of people can not do their work at home, so their income may depend on how their employer or their government is reacting during this complicated time. In any case, it is a good thing to stay at home to avoid spreading the virus.
I am lucky, specially as I am a freelancer, because for the moment I can continue with my work. I also did some hours as extra baker in a café in Cologne, but I will not be able to continue because with less clients there is less need of extra help, and now the café is closed for a while anyway. I will miss it, it was my pause from working at home or working in Geneva and also my little window to learning some German.
Working from home for me is the normal everyday thing. The biggest change is that I will not be able to go the herbarium in Geneva for a while. I suppose that we will find a solution like high resolution scans of some of the species.
With me staying more than usual at home I am happy that my routine is getting better. I am waking up earlier, doing some yoga or sport, working on my botanical illustration and also doing some other fun and quick illustrations. I started a WhatsApp group with my family and proposed a creative challenge for 14 days. They have participated almost every day with photos, videos or drawings. It is cool and even if they do not participate they comment and we stay in touch.
Of course I have a lot of time because I do not have kids. If I had I would probably be home-schooling them and taking care of them. My nephews (10 and 11 years) are continuing to learn things thanks to the homework that the teachers are sending and their parents who are helping them. I have friends that have small children and have to find ways to organize themselves so they can take care of them while working from home. So kudos and good luck to all of those parents and people who have children! I have Toulouse, my cat, he sleeps besides me or sits sometimes on my drawings 🙂
So, here are some examples of botanic work and some of the drawing that I made for the creative challenge from this week. And I hope that your quarantine is not to hard.
The last couple of months I have been drawing mostly plants from the Sapotaceae family. The illustrations will accompany the descriptions of species in the revised volume of Sapotaceae of the Flore de Madagascar by botanists of the Conservatoire et Jardin Botaniques de Genève.
It is a big project and I am very happy to be part of it. It means a lot of work for a while so I have been trying to be careful with my time-management skills that still need a bit more fine tuning. But this project is so cool and I am learning a lot. A the moment I have drawn mostly species of the Capurodendron genus that will be published soon. There was also one species of Labramia and now I am finishing one Mimusops. As they are in the same family there are common basic characters, but each genus has its particular difficulties. After drawing the Mimusops flower and all of its appendices I was glad to come back to the “simple” or simpler Capurodendron flowers :). All of my drawings are done from dried herbarium specimens as reference, very often the typus of the species (how lucky am I?!).
The original volume for the Sapotaceae was written by A. Aubréville in 1974. Around half of the described species have illustrations. The illustrations where done by J. Saussotte-Guérel. I found out in an old journal that the artist is a woman. Indeed it is “Mlle. J. Saussotte-Guérel” in Bibliographie, Bulletin de la Société Botanique de France, 1968, 115:3-4 p. 283, although I could not find her name. Anyway, I find that pretty cool, as I have to draw some of the species that she already did, adding details and elements.
If you are curious, the Flore de Madagascar et des Comores is available in the Biodiversity Heritage Library site. Here is a link to the volume 164: Sapotaceae.
Here is an example of a page in the 1974 flora and some examples of what I am doing, yet to be published by L. Gautier & al.
Spring is finally here! And with that I will be working a bit more. I must say, seing flowers everywhere does motivates me to draw and paint, even thought I do have some unfinished ideas from autumn and winter. But that will have to wait because the flowers wont!
There is a big park near home and it has a pretty nice collection of trees. Among them there are a few magnolias. I thought that it could be a nice project for this month so I went yesterday to visit them. The cool thing is that they are not all at the same stage of flowering, so I can see open flowers and also closed buds.
Here are a couple of sketches that I did yesterday. I will be doing some measured drawing tomorrow and probably next week. I will have to move fast because the flowers will not wait for me 🙂
Today I have to treat the images that I am going to upload in the site so that everything looks good together. Until now I was more focused on the structure of the site. I thought that it was ok some days ago, but I changed it during the week-end. I suppose that it will probably change again if I find a better way to do it, but for the moment I will focus on the images that I will show.